What and who is Rob Maher about? That's a question where not everyone will have time for the answer, but I personally enjoyed finding out by taking a listen to his album A Man of Many Misses. It's usually about here where I try to peg where the artist is on the genre scale. Maher is decidedly a folk man, BUT he puts some very cool twists on it that could flip this whole genre upside down. He can be innocent, blunt, creepy and then he just digs into this almost grunge like state. The subversive nature of this "folk music" is very punk rock, but still very much a folk thing.
One thing I really loved is how much this album surprised me. The first few tracks felt more like your run of the mill indie folk songs, but I could tell with the pointed lyrics there was something more going on. He also added unexpected instrument choices that kept everything so fresh. Then as you head down the line you get more ironic lyrics and grungy guitar riffs. Lyrically, "The Right Idea" slayed it for me. This song is so blunt and honest there was no way I couldn't smile. At this point I was having a seriously good time and then as you get to the middle he just lets all the ugly and creepy elements hang out and I loved it. It all sort of comes to a head with "Ghost Town." This song takes folk and tortures it into a very appealing fog of misery that I found to be so delicious. I also appreciate that while things get dark and kind of emo, it never sounds hokey or like a gimmick. He fully committed to it.
To yank out of the dark pit, Maher slaps "Set Me Free" right behind "Ghost Town" and you're back in a more traditional folk zone again. It's much brighter and brings with it this comforting chill aspect. I kind of love how it's like he has this little mood swing or dark thought and then was like "oh hey, my meds kicked in, I'm good." I think that's something people can relate to, more than they would like to admit, but I sure as hell can relate and love this all the more for it.
The remainder of the album is definitely more on the chill and sweeter side. Lots of introspective lyrics and catchy riffs that never overwhelm. One of my favorites on the later half of the album is "Kathmandu" which presents a catchy rhythm and infectious lyrics. It almost has a world music effect to it that makes it so special.
This album is special, so special that before I finished listening to it, I was compelled to buy it. The strongest selling point here is the originality. Maher is fully committed to a very specific sound that works for him on so many levels. I'm not sure all folk enthusiasts will be in love but I think plenty will. I would say if you're a grunge fan this could be the one folk album you need in your collection. Congratulations to Maher. This is fantastic from head to toe.
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